Burwood Teppanyaki House, Burwood

Mark’s 24th Birthday dinner was to be held at Burwood Teppanyaki House. I knew it was Japanese cuisine, but I have never experienced teppanyaki before so I didn’t know what to expect. Teppanyaki is Japanese for iron grill, so it basically involves cooking food on an iron plate, but at a restaurant, you have an awesome funny chef dude to cook it in front of you.

The restaurant was very chic; lots of black and red, down-lighting for each sitting place, and each table was made of gorgeous black marble surrounding a clean grill plate. They had kimonos hanging from the walls and cute little smiling cat figurines all over the place.

The plates were so cute! You get a square one next to the grill for the chef to deposit the food, a little triple-dishlette with satay sauce, a vinegar sauce, and a gorgeous, rich mayonnaise with chilli and garlic. Another shell-shaped bowl was for soya sauce, and a round plate to eat off.

The menu only had four banquet options, so Dave and I picked a banquet each and we shared bits and pieces. The first thing to come out was a small bowl of miso soup. My experience with miso soup hasn’t been great. It usually tastes like seaweed and has chunks of tofu or bean curd that have a feral texture, but this was different.

They used spinach instead of seaweed, so it didn’t have that fishy flavour. The broth was very similar to chicken soup, and the sediment gave it a bit of body. It was a pleasurable starter.

The next treat to come out was a tiny little salad with sesame and soya dressing. I’m in love with sesame dressing at the moment so this was perfect. Fresh garden salad with bits of sliced tomato, delicate ribbons of seaweed and creamy sesame dressing sauce drizzled on top with the soy dressing at the bottom. A fresh, savoury salad. Please excuse the photo – the light was very dim.

Dave’s banquet came with California rolls with a button of wasabi and (I assume homemade because it was white) pickled ginger. It was definitely more special than the stuff you get in the food court at Northland. There was a delicate sweetness, and there were more flavours that complimented each other so well. It was a mouthful of the most expensive California roll I’ve ever had, and that’s exactly what it tasted like.

At this point, I felt like ordering some warm sake. It came out steaming in a little porcelain bottle with two tiny cups. The first taste resembled baked apples, and then it smoothed out into the alcoholic sake taste. It’s not as harsh and bitter as vodka, but it’s the closest thing I can compare sake to.

After the starters, our chefs finally arrived to start showing us with their skills. These guys are the entertainment; they’re cooks, dramatists, comedians, and jugglers and you spend the whole evening waiting for the next shocking, funny, amazing thing that they do.

They started with prawns, which they cleaned with one stroke of their spatula and knife, and then mixed with garlic butter and soya sauce, which the chef claimed to be Coca Cola, HA!

These were my favourite. The prawns were dipped into the chilli mayonnaise and were heaven in the mouth. Salty and tender with that creamy butter glaze. So good! When he cleaned the prawns, the head of the prawn was discarded but the feet stayed on the grill the entire time. I wonder what’s gonna happen with those.

Next out was chicken thigh fillets and black cod fillets. The chicken was grilled whole at first, then diced and mixed with butter, soya sauce and sesame seeds. They were so tender and juicy and didn’t require any sauce.

While the black cod was not included in our banquets, there was a piece left which the chef split between us. The cod was incredible. Not fishy at all, and the skin was a buttery, crispy, melt in your mouth delight. The flesh was soft and juicy and moorish, omg.

Dave’s banquet included beef, which was also cooked with soya sauce and sesame seeds. No sauce required for these succulent pieces. They weren’t chewy at all and very easy to eat.

Next, our chef whipped up some vegetables and fried rice. The vegetables consisted of a shitake mushroom head, a snowpea, a disc of zucchini and a wedge of pumpkin drizzled with butter and cooked on a banana leaf with a lid over the top. The shitake mushroom was a light, fluffy mouthful, like a marshmellow. The pumpkin was a soft, sweet surprise.

The awesome chef dude then started the show with stacking eggs on the grill. He managed to get a tower of four eggs, and we all cheered. Then he tossed us a bowl and used the spatula to flick the egg into our bowls. If you were unlucky, the uncooked egg would hit the edge of the bowl and crack all over the place, but one of the waitresses would step in with a paper towel and mop it up pronto.

Once the eggs were collected, they were put into one bowl, scrambled and poured onto the plate to make a giant omelette that they rolled and cut into portions. They then would flick the pieces of egg pancake at you and you were expected to catch it with your mouth. This was all fun and games, and a great opportunity for you to laugh at people who got egg on their face, and for people to laugh at you when you got egg on your face, or for people to cheer and clap when you caught the egg in your mouth. It was like a food fight.

With the leftover egg pancake, the chef would chink his spatulas together slowly at first until we all started to clap in time, and then he’d cut the egg in time with the claps, getting faster and faster as we clapped faster and faster until the egg pancake was shredded into pieces and we were all clapping and cheering. The egg shreds were mixed in with the fried rice and soya sauce and oil were tossed in to complete the mixture.

Then the chaos started. The chef dude started to throw bowls at us until we had a little tower of about 5 bowls in our hands. Then he’d fill a bowl with fried rice and throw it at you and expect you to catch it on top of the tower of bowls in your hands. Of course, there were victors, and then there were those who’s bowl of rice would smash on the bench or on the ground.

Then the chefs got cheeky and would only throw the rice and get you to catch it in the bowl. Absolute madness. Everyone got rice in the end, which was simple and delicious with a little soy sauce drizzled over the top.

At the end, while the chef was cleaning up, he offered up those prawn legs, which I volunteered to try. They were crunchy and weird with a little bit of prawn flesh. Yum, but weird.

The teppanyaki extravaganza was over and the chefs thanked us for having them and left. Little waitresses started to bustle around our table to sweep up the broken bowls and stray rice and we knew it was time to go.

What a show, what an experience! When I first looked at the menu, I was a little taken back by the price of the banquets – the cheapest was $42 – but what you’re paying for is an awesome, interactive show by a mischievous comedian cooking tantalizing morsels of scrumptious seafood and meat. An excellent venue for birthdays, casual first dates and work functions. Bravo Teppanyaki House!

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